Apple TV4K as a streamer for ROCK?

Searching for a cheap streamer for my ROCK NUC, I stumbled across a (previously forgotten) Apple Store credit of $160.

Seeing that the Apple TV4K has an Ethernet input and a TOSLINK output, and that it costs “only” $129 plus tax, I wondered if the thing is Roon-compatible?

I wouldn’t need anything fancy - just the ability to pass red-book CD music in .wav and .flac formats and to stream Qobuz and YouTube audio.

Will the Apple TV4K do what I need?

Thanks - Glenn

As the Apple TV has airplay it should work out if the box, I’d never tried it with mine, but I just have and it works, you get a basic full screen display on the TV when playing.

Thanks - I don’t need video at all (although I might try it since it’s there). I mostly want Ethernet in (from ROCK) and stereo TOSLINK out.

The 4K doesn’t have toslink out does it? They do Airplay but mine effectively works via HDMI to the TV and I feed the Toslink output of my TV to my DAC.

I think AirPlay on Apple TV only supports 48k.

I also needed to mess around with the security setting to get it to work with roon.

For the price I think you can do better, although with your token perhaps not!


I think only the old ones do toslink.

If you’re in the UK I may have one I can offer you!

Having a store credit in $ means not U.K. I have checked and my 4K and later HD are HDMI only but my 3rd gen has Toslink so finding an older one will be cheap if your intent is purely as a Airplay endpoint.

I use an Apple TV 4K as a Roon endpoint and it works just fine via Airplay.
There’s also a 3rd party app on the App Store called TV:Remote that provides a nice display for Roon and provides some control and the ability to select what’s playing albeit in a less than ideal way.
I also have an older Apple TV with toslink. Beware that these don’t have access to the App Store so will work as a basic Roon endpoint but you won’t be able to load streaming apps or YouTube etc.

Works Great…Sounds not so Great.

I enabled the house using existing AppleTVs and eventually moved to PI’s with a DAC and Ethernet back to my Roon server.


Why would the Apple TV “not sound so great?” The device isn’t doing ANY digital-to-analog conversion? It’s only taking an incoming Wi-Fi or Ethernet audio stream and outputting a digital stream that your DAC can handle.

If you’ve got a Gen.4 TV, then you only have HDMI out, but if you have a late G.3 one, you have TOSLINK optical out, and if you have an early G.3 one, you have both optical AND USB outputs.

If you have a modern asynchronous DAC, then the digital signal is reclocked (and all jitter removed).

I don’t understand how an Apple TV could have ANY effect on sound quality.

If you don’t need the actual video/TV part of it, why not get an old Airport Express? They were updated a couple years ago to support Airplay 2.0. I added one to my home network (disabled the Wi-Fi part) and it feeds the Toslink into a DAC. Sounds great to me.

You’re absolutely correct! The Airport also offers both USB and optical outputs., and costs almost the same as the Apple TV (about $10 to $30 used on eBay).

Should be the same function at the same price.

Everything is resampled to 48k on an ATV as it doesn’t accept anything else. So it’s mucked about with.

You could read this: Apple Music Lossless Mess Part 2: AirPlay - Bits and Bytes - Audiophile Style

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Hi @Bert

Right off the bat, I have issues with “Apple Music Lossless Mess…”

This purports to be an investigation of Apple’s music transmission, but it’s being done with the “assistance” of a commercial competitor (Bluesound). What could possibly go wrong?

The results aren’t verified by any independent third party.

The examination sticks to the use of Apple sources and decoding. Some Bluesound gear was used, but there’s no explanation of WHY the Bluesound gear performed differently from the all-Apple chain. Were the differences caused by Apple gear? By Bluesound gear? Were there technical incompatibilities? What were they?

In short, even if the article is 100% accurate in its conclusions, there is not enough information given to understand why the conclusions given are correct (or not).

Compare the R&D budget of Bluesound to that of Apple. Who has more (and better) engineers? Does this disparity mean that Apple’s products are actually better than Bluesound’s? I’d think not. BUT the question remains, if Apple has the technical edge and the overwhelming budgetary edge, would they really introduce measurably inferior audio gear? They might. Audio may not be the priority to Apple that it is to Bluesound. But on the other hand, I’d expect Apple to be at least very, very close to Bluesound (and just about any other specialty manufacturer you’d care to name).

Having said that, could I be wrong? Of course I could. But without unbiased third-party evidence to the contrary, I’d think that Apple’s audio transmission protocols and hardware would be perfectly acceptable and competitive.

To get native CD quality, you just need Apple AirPort Express 1st gen hardware with TosLink output, (not Apple TV) as @armandhammer said. That’s what I currently use in 3 zones.

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I have 3 endpoints that support both RAAT and AirPlay.
Playing the same 16/44 files from Roon, AirPlay sounds compromised to me.
It’s by no means bad or night and day different but the AirPlay streams have a glare or slight harshness that I find fatiguing over time. I primarily listen with headphones.
So while I’ll freely make reference to my username, I believe something is going on here.
This might explain it.


Hi @Placebophile -

I believe you. I’ll use my Apple TV until I have enough in the spare change pile to consider something better.

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It’s totally fine.
I use one too.
I was just offering a possible explanation as to why they may sound different.

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Hi @Placebophile -

A quick question, please, regarding your comment that the Apple equipment sounds harsh compared to other endpoints? As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, it seems that Apple TV (don’t know about AirPort Express) automagically converts all incoming audio into 48kHz output.

Have you tried letting Roon do the conversion to 48kHz and then streaming it to the Apple device? This would (at least, theoretically) tax the Apple hardware significantly less and might eliminate the harshness that you are hearing.

Since Roon on a NUC should have clock cycles to spare, it would seem that converting at the NUC point in the signal chain would not stress the endpoint so much.

Thanks - Glenn